slowing down to dig in — why it matters to a mission-driven org

Often we find ourselves challenged to get a whole lot done in a short period of time at work and in our personal lives. The combination of the two can really affect the quality of just how well we achieve each task on our to-do-list. We can spread ourselves too thin and find ourselves juggling everything on our plate the best we can, with each deliverable’s outcome getting to only half the potential of what it could be. The pressure of wearing many hats is evident in the nonprofit sector — and checking things off our to-do list can give a false sense of accomplishment and feed the do-er in all of us. 

The fact is our bandwidths are stretched and our staff time is often limited,  which leaves everyone rushing to keep up with the day-to-day. When we’re expected to handle all marketing & communication efforts with a small team or team of one to support, we can forget that slowing down can often create less work in the long run. 

why does slowing down even matter? 

When things are busy we rush which leads to mistakes, details being missed, or not giving the attention required to something that would, in turn, have a better result if we gave it the attention it deserves. We sacrifice the quality of something with the interest of getting it done quickly. Often times, this is preventable. And, the projects or tasks that need the extra attention, when given, can have the stellar instead of mediocre impact they deserve. Slowing down allows us to do it right the first time. 

when do I need to slow down?

Knowing when to actually slow down is difficult and it can often be tough to pinpoint when it is necessary and when it is not. One of the biggest obstacles can be knowing just when to step back and dig in for the betterment of the quality of the final outcome. Take the time to research before recommending a strategy. Consider all potential successes and failures before pitching your big idea to your team. Here are some things to consider to ensure you’re assessing when to slow down, or when to keep things movin’ that we’ve seen implemented across our client organizations and that we practice here at The Cause Collaborative in our workspace:

be present:

One of the easiest (and most important!) ways to make someone feel important or heard is to make eye contact and use your body language. Working fast can often lead to you being perceived as being frazzled or even rude. In this field, relationships matter — slow down, take a breather before your meeting starts. Even two to three minutes in between jumping allows your brain to switch gears and tap into the present with the person at the table. You’ll get there faster by being present.

hold yourself & team accountable:

Be honest with yourself. Tell those you work with that you want to be held accountable and would love their input when things look too rushed, aren’t quite ‘there’, or if you are starting to resemble a scattered pile of puzzle pieces that just don’t seem to fit together — no matter how hard you try. Have your coworkers, and yourself, comfortable saying the words “slow down” to each other. Spread out the workload, delegate, and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to call upon that colleague, that community member or that first or long-time volunteer who keeps asking how they can help your organization. If you’re working too fast on too many tasks, we can forget to pause and collaborate. There is a huge value to collaborating with others and doing it successfully. 

weigh the importance:

Take a moment to weigh the importance of the task at hand. Determine which tasks need more attention and note the time you should consider working on each. Is the task a collateral piece going out to thousands of potential donors, where the impact, if done well, would result in more funds for your organization? Is the task a theme for an event that could be anything from a 60’s theme to an event-based off your favorite movie, or should you tie the theme back to the mission and take the time to tell a story through the event? Taking the extra time for a results-driven projects could lead to more success.

micro-tasking vs. multi-asking:

We are trying to get everything done at the exact same time. We are told ‘multi-tasking’ is a great skill and even speak to it during interviews. In reality, micro-tasking (sticking with one task until it is done before jumping to the next task) leads to more productivity and accuracy/quality. Easier said than done, but the ability to switch gears quickly can be valuable and important, but more important is your ability to get it done right the first time. 

Need extra bandwidth or help project managing your workload so you can take the time needed to do everything WELL, instead of mediocre? Reach out! We’d be happy to collaborate over coffee. becca@thecausecollab.org